Mature markets breed competition, and Colorado is a case in point. To stand out from the crowd, Colorado cannabis brands must go the extra mile, and connecting with the state’s discerning stoners is the best way to bring home the gold.
This month we’re taking a look at the ten homegrown Colorado brands that are leading the pack when it comes to consumer engagement. These are not our arbitrary picks, but rather the brands that are currently generating the most buzz, as measured by the Pioneer Intelligence Heat Index, which monitors online activity across three pillars: earned media, social media, and web traffic. More on Pioneer’s methodology here.*
To learn more about how to master the art of consumer engagement in an over-regulated industry, we reached out to representatives of several brands on the list, starting with Escape Artists. Brand director Monika Kowalczyk emphasized the importance of agility—paying close attention to consumer preferences and then quickly adapting strategies based on new information.
Speaking of consumer needs, she said that they emphasize budtender education. “Our budtender community drives immense value to the consumer experience,” she said. “Quite simply, we have quality employees that are great representatives of the company. That goes a long way in connecting with consumers.”
When asked what might have caused an uptick in “buzz,” Kowalczyk pointed to an extensive brand refresh with new packaging and product launches, including a sleep tincture and “mini” versions of their live resin-infused pre-rolls. In keeping with their ethos of agility, these products were based on their study of consumer needs and habits.
Mike Lempert, VP of Seed & Smith, also points to a recent rebrand as a possible source of their rising buzz, as well as collaborations with academia and regional influencers, and dispensary pop-up events. He emphasized the importance of maintaining a team that’s capable of bringing it–every time.
“At all levels, the Seed & Smith team have really bought into the culture we are creating, and it shows,” he said.
Part of that culture, he said, is transparency. “Our cannabis tours are second to none. Nobody in Colorado gives a more transparent and comprehensive tour like Seed & Smith. Nobody. We welcome everyone from tourists to our competitors. At Seed & Smith, our secret sauce…is not having any secrets at all.”
He said the cannabis tours are a great way to build consumer loyalty and create ongoing buzz. And they’re representative of the company’s ethos of hands-on participation in the larger cannabis community.
“Above all, I think our belief that a high tide raises all ships, and we are in this together as an industry is paramount,” he said. “Our team has taken a very active stance on having a presence, not just in dispensaries and on shelves for customers but also at networking events and industry events. Inclusivity is at the center of our value system and our culture is unmatched.”
Jordan Plunkett of Veritas Fine Cannabis also credits their success to a robust company culture.
“Innovation has become part of our culture and is critical for staying ahead of this rapidly growing and transforming market,” he said.
This isn’t just a talking point. We’ve seen a lot of innovation from Veritas over the past few years. Recent bids at capturing media attention have included partnering with Oskar Blues brewery to create an IPA infused with terpenes from the extensive Veritas strain library, as well as designing a promotional product for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game when it was held in Denver.
Veritas has proved particularly adept at hyping limited-edition product launches, some of which are quite innovative, like their Pheno Hunt Series. To find out more about their approach, we spoke with marketing director Jordan Plunkett.
“It’s important for us to think beyond what’s been done and push the boundaries of what’s allowed in order to curate a unique experience, encouraging individuals to elevate their lifestyles with cannabis,” he said.
Amen to that. So without further ado, here’s the top ten hottest Colorado brands, excluding MSOs.
Pioneer Intelligence leverages data to benchmark marketing performance of consumer-facing cannabis brands. Built by a group of experienced and passionate marketers and data scientists, Pioneer helps industry stakeholders better understand how communications strategies resonate with audiences. In early 2021, Pioneer launched its first products, a suite of marketing performance scorecards. These reports present actionable data across three focus areas: social media, earned media and web-related activities. More information can be found on the company’s website, https://pioneer.buzz.
Disclaimer: Pioneer currently has more than 680 brands in their active pool with hundreds more in their pipeline. (Pipeline brands require six months of data before being added to the active pool.) Lists of both active and pipeline brands can be found at pioneer.buzz/brands. If you would like to request your brand be tracked by Pioneer, please email [email protected].